FEATURE ARTICLE

Sunday, November 8, 2020
Patrick_Alabi@yahoo.com

ARE YOU THE BEAUTIFUL ONE?
t will appear the beautiful one is not yet born. Perhaps, he is but only needs to be 'born again' to give him a more human and humane face, and equally also needs to be remoulded into a different performer.

The country, Nigeria is a product of who we are as a person. The change we are looking for is a change in all of us individually.

A better you is, and will be a better Nigeria. Me too? Yes, you; as in capital YOU! Please note that 'you' as used here (and in this piece) means 'all of us.'

It is easy to put on a brave front and point fingers, however, we are all to be blamed for the level of woeful performances so far witnessed in Nigeria.

We cannot plant okra and harvest a mango. It is impossible! We will all need to change our mentalities and mindsets for things to be better in our country, and the solution must, and will have to come from everyone (i.e. our leaders and followers). No one is a saint in Nigeria - not our leaders; and not even the followers!

Our past heroes in Nigeria fought very hard for Nigeria's independence and they succeeded. Now we had the independence, right? But what we do with what we have is more important than what we have. What are we doing or have we done with what we have? Sounds rhetoric, even though our 'report card' is full of red colour, so far so good the little success we have been able to achieve is more by accident than design. As much as we think we have changed sometimes.....deep down, we are really the same as before...just trying to display a harder shell on the outside. Ours is a classic case of 'gods are not to blame.' Please come closer, we are all to blame for our tales of woes in Nigeria but we blame others even though we are equally culpable. Ours is that of a hypocrite - he never practices what he preaches. That will explain our present corruption and indiscipline state in Nigeria where our leaders and their followers alike are taking the centre stage dancing to the makossa rhythm of corruption and indiscipline.

Unfortunately, the common words that featured in my query of our political and economic database are "CORRUPTION & INDISCIPLINE." Looking in retrospect, I can see faintly where we went wrong. 'Egunje' that once spoiled Lagos is now ubiquitous everywhere in Nigeria. 'chop, I chop' is now the name of the game.

Our followers are as corrupt as our leaders if not worse, as the former are only waiting for their turn and opportunity to strike. Even if it is largely an illusion at best, delivering a real hammer blow to Nigerian hope of reaching the paradise is the attitude of our leaders and 'our' so called 'holier than thou' followers. It is none other than the attitude that no one can ever achieve everything in life anyway, and besides, if one did, what would be left over for others to do! 'Chop - I - chop, god no dey vex' has been the game. We all need to be more disciplined. We need a change of mentality and mindset in the country.

Slightly akin to a chicken and an egg scenario, it is strangely difficult to decode if corruption and indiscipline brought about the mentality and mindset issue we are witnessing in Nigeria today or if our mentality and mindset gave birth to the corruption/greed and indiscipline themselves? But one thing is certain and so sure, we cannot afford to allow corruption and indiscipline to continue to be the bane of our society.

To make an omelette you must first beat the eggs, therefore, for us to move forward and beat the bad habit, we must first break the jinx of corruption, greed and indiscipline monsters.

Nigeria has been battling with "ELEVEN PLUS." Some people might be wondering what is "ELEVEN PLUS?" In some parts of Britain, "ELEVEN PLUS" is an exam taken by children aged eleven which affects what type of school they go to next. If you continue to do the same thing every time, it is most likely you will get the same result. It is not a curse, not until we do well in certain areas will Nigeria move forward. Like "ELEVEN PLUS", Nigeria will continue to be admitted into the same school until we pass with flying colours in certain essential subjects.

Fortunately for us, we have the past questions; we have the syllabus; we have the cheat sheet; we know the areas where we are not scoring high enough; they even gave us the answers to the questions beforehand (a.k.a ODU or EEGUN, or ORIJO, lol!), and to crown it all, God gave us the brilliant people who can help. It cannot be easier than that! Unfortunately, Nigeria willingly seems not to be preparing for "ELEVEN PLUS" exam at all.

Discretion they often say is the better part of valour. There is no point deceiving ourselves and taking unnecessary risks, like every exam, if you do not prepare well enough, there is the likelihood of failure. Nigeria, like a lazy student who does not want to study but will rather consult an oracular herbalist, will still not meet the cut off mark to the school of her choice.

Looking back, it is still the same old story. But the good news is that we still have another opportunity to make a change. We have more than enough to do the work ahead. Let us all beam the searchlight on ourselves and look inwardly for once as a start. What can you and I do differently to make Nigeria better?

In my opinion, if only they will admit it our leaders seem to be overwhelmed with the monstrous challenges facing the country. Suffice to say, this is a challenging time for our country and we are at a tipping point in many areas. It is a time like this that a hero is born. We can all be that hero! We are all leaders, as I always say. Let us not be deceived, there is no 'Askia the great' anywhere anymore - the last 'one' died long time ago in Songhai Empire. We all have various roles to play to liberate ourselves from the shackles of the self serving opportunists who called themselves our leaders and followers. It is time to shake off their shackles!

If we all obey this simple rule: "do unto Nigeria and others as you would have others do unto you", Nigeria will be a better place. Just imagine this for a second!

Even though we have been heating our water for close to 60 years, yet with rising temperature we are nowhere near the boiling point. Even though we perpetually have been on the treadmill with enough sweat, yet no fitness! Even though we have found ourselves in a "zero work done" situation, nevertheless, for every challenge they say there is an escape route to victory. If we don't give up the exit is close-by if we are strategic enough. If we don't leave our common sense behind on the shelf, the light at the end of the tunnel is near enough to be seen. Even though we cannot push the river but we can train it. As Sir William Osler once said and I quote, "The best preparation for tomorrow is to do today's work superbly well." Are you going to be building or demolishing by your mentality and mindset?

Are you still confused? I know what we always want to place all the problems we face in Nigeria (including bribery, corruptions and indiscipline) on the doorsteps of our leaders. But that is not very correct. Let me go deeper a little more.

Remember, a giver and a receiver of kickbacks and bribes, a corrupt individual, and onlookers who do not speak against such a bad practice equally commit the same sin and are all culpable. When you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you see? I am looking forward to the day we can all proudly say we see absolutely incorrupt, unbribable and incorruptible images. As we remold ourselves into this 'change of mentality and mindset' character or image, we start to change Nigeria to our new image. We can get there! In my entire years in this world, I have never met a single Nigerian who can be trusted to the extent of not capable of being corrupted or who can resist bribes. However, the reverse is the case in many Western World. For example, your White neighbors or friends could easily report you to officials if they are convinced that you are cheating the system or if they seemingly could not explain the sources of your sudden wealth. A father or mother could even do the same to his or her wards. Agreed, this will never happen in Nigeria of nowadays. Having lived with them for many years now I know that some of our White counterparts are no saints either. Nevertheless, one Yoruba adage says and I quote " between two wrongdoings one will be better than the other." While our case in Nigeria has reached a tipping point and we have been hitting a panick gauge/buttons, theirs over here are in a smaller proportion. Although there are some bad apples among the White folks, overall they are more honest and ethically not as impure when compared with my people. I have my own shares of acts of dishonesty inflicted to me by/ from some of our people. Don't you have yours? I think we all do!

Yoruba bo, won ni: 'ile ni a ti 'nko eso r'ode.' Charity, they say, begins at home. Charity can only begin at home if we all rightly do our bit individually to move the country forward. Some may argue that our leaders should be doing more to move the country forward. I realize that our leaders need to model the way and lead us on the right paths. That is true and a giving! The point is, however: if our leaders are making the main course, the followers too should make the dessert. All hands must be on deck if we are to turn this ugly page over in Nigeria! Just as the butterflies fly down the valley pollinating whatever flowers they touch, Nigeria needs all Nigerians to help her fertilize. With our current situation, the followers cannot afford to step on the sidelines and wait for the meals to come. We, therefore, need a total reorientation of our people. We need a paradigm shift! We need to change our mentalities and mindsets. We need a moral correction in Nigeria. As well, we need a democracy that is working. That is, where the rules of law are followed, and the constitution is supreme and represents the general wishes of the populace. That we have total deficiencies in some of these areas are also our Achilles' heel.

We have laws and rules in Nigeria but they are not being obeyed/followed, and lawbreakers are walking down the streets of Lagos and Abuja having got off scot-free. Sadly enough, there is no summary conviction being exercised for offenders as you can easily bribe yourself out of any case related and problematic situation in Nigeria. I have witnessed here in North America a situation where an incumbent Premier (a Governor) lost her position for not being able to account for $5000 in travel expenses. I have also seen a Deputy Premier (Deputy Governor) being stripped of his position because he drove under the influence of alcohol. I cannot see these happening in Nigeria, right?

In Nigeria today, there are no bold and incorruptible judges and institutions to hold office holders and the rich people accountable. Our judicial system seems a sham. Our own symbol of justice features a half-opened eye to see who is beneath the sword. Should the accused be well connected, or should his or her last name be familiar, and should he or she pay the right price, the sword would be sheathed. Bribery and Corruption happens to be the name of the game. A thief should be a thief whether from your or my village, clan, town, city or ethnic group. Until there is the universal abhorrence of evil, we would remain on the treadmill. That is why we all need a mentality and mindset change.

Many people like to allude to how the country was great in the past. Even in the 70s and 80s in Nigeria that many alluded to, one could sense some corruptions and indiscipline then too but things were not as bad as we have today. My point is: some of the problems we face today were already present then but just on a smaller scale. In those days, we were not as civilised as this and people cut their coats according to their sizes as well. My people worship material things these days. Vanity upon vanity!

Today, with more civilization, increased population, rising taste, skyrocketing costs of living, and greater impatience, our younger people are now on a faster train than we are used to. They are hungry and angry. I feel for the younger generation in Nigeria today. But unfortunately, the Government could not deliver on their promises for inadequacy of resources as they claimed, and having done what they do best- lapping their pockets with available resources. I say it again, I feel for the younger generation. I still remember how we used to pay 20 naira as tuition per session (10 naira per semester) and it was later to be increased to I think 30 naira and we had to do Aluta to prevent the increase. Even then, many people could still not afford the tuition. My uncle would also tell me how they were not paying any school fees in their time and accommodation and feeding were free. Things are extremely difficult in Nigeria today. Only the few fortunate ones are enjoying.

Agreed, our leaders need to do more! I always find it difficult to believe that someone will put himself or herself out there to serve the people altruistically without having a good intention to begin with. Who does not want his or her name to be written or carved in Gold? But it is Nigeria, there is nothing we will not see! Strange and erratic leadership behaviors from our leaders who should have known better, polarization created, disagreement caused, instability produced, and injustice perpetrated never paved the way for harmony and cooperation amongst our various ethnicities till date. All we see now is a mere pretence and camouflage. Although they may have some preconceived ill intention, but I doubt it if many of our leaders deliberately want to fail overall. I think they are equally overwhelmed because our problems in Nigeria are enormous, multifarious, and multifaceted. We should not also forget the nefarious activities of our people including the followers too. There are few people lifting up to millions pushing the weight down.

Our followers are contributors to our tales of woes, and thus, are adding more dead weights to already overloaded 'reactions.' To put it in a nutshell, our leaders do not want to fail but have always retreated to their caves because of the overwhelming problems caused by us (leaders and followers). The problem has always been that our leaders, the supporters, the followers and the professionals alike are readily supplying headwinds, and just doing their own things to survive at the detriment of the country. And there are no fail-proof structures in place to check our excesses. We need to stop losing steam. Therefore, we will need to address all of these self-inflicted conundrums that we created for ourselves if we are to turn the corner.

The challenging questions now are: Are we all prepared to do what it takes today to make our tomorrow's better in Nigeria? In addition, are we all prepared to not give up so that our problems can dissolve like snow as all hands are on deck strategically to make that happen? Are you all ready to do your bit to liberate Nigeria/Nigerians or will you still be stuck in your usual mentalities and mindsets? The choice is yours! Let us all do something about our situation in the country remedy-wise. Can we all make this momentous moral correction? Let us change our wrong attitudes and nobly do what is required of us in our personal/daily and professional lives. 'Posterity' is looking at us in the face - he will judge!

Lastly, he who must be a great reformer must first reform himself. Will you allow yourself to be reformed through a change of mentality and mindset or will you rather maintain the status quo? The latter is not an option for us given our current situation in Nigeria. The road ahead can only be easy if we start changing for the better as we may not get the required harvest if we don't stop all of these menaces and bleeding. We cannot continue to make bad choices and expect major changes. We must all therefore put an end to bribery, corruption and indiscipline and many other social vices.

To usher in a new dawn of a better Nigeria, let us change our mentalities and mindsets as I too change mine for our country to be great. Can you now be the beautiful one? Remember, a better you, a better Nigeria!

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